During today’s debate in the EP plenary on the Commission Work Programme 2021, the Socialists and Democrats laid down their priorities for Commission action next year. Ahead of the debate, the S&D Group had sent a letter to Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and Commission vice-president Maroš Šefčovič calling for progress, especially in the social-economic field.
S&D vice-president Simona Bonafè, who sent the letter jointly with S&D Group president Iratxe García Pérez, said:
“It is positive to see that the Commission has adopted so many core elements of our progressive programme. However, words have to be followed up by concrete action. We call on the Commission to come forward with all legislative files by the end of 2021 so that there is enough time for the European Parliament and the Council to reach an agreement and approve policies in good time.
“Going forward, the social dimension of the EU’s flagship policies, such as the European Green Deal and the digital transformation, must be strengthened. What the Commission has delivered so far and is planning to do, is not enough. Social progress cannot anymore be addressed only in isolation but needs to become an integral, cross-cutting part of all transition policies.
“The Action Plan for the Implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights must include clear and mandatory targets, linked to access to European funds, and be accompanied by core legislative proposals such as an Anti-Poverty Strategy or the revision of the Temporary Agency Work Directive. Time is pressing and proposals should be presented by early 2021, to allow the Portuguese EU Presidency to make good progress in the social policy sphere.
“It is also high time to take action for a European Health Union, one our Group’s key priorities since the Covid-19 pandemic broke out. Along the same lines, we urge the Commission to ensure that gender issues are mainstreamed throughout the whole Work Programme.
“The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic shows that our old economic rules are no longer fit for purpose and we must reform them. We need to redress the European Semester towards a framework based on sustainable policy coordination. In addition, we must revise the Growth and Stability Pact, based on the Community Method, and include a golden rule for sustainable public investment.
“On the world scene, the EU must act as a true global player and defend the rules-based international system. We need a mandatory EU Human Rights Due Diligence instrument and fight disinformation. To save developing countries from excessive debt, the Commission should come forward with an initiative on debt sustainability that includes debt relief.
“Finally, the Commission must live up to its promise to deliver on values. For next year, we expect legislative proposals on legal migration and humanitarian visas as well as the urgently needed proposal on a Rule of Law Mechanism to monitor democracy, fundamental rights and the rule of law. This should include financial sanctions and a strong focus on judicial independence.”